Do you play video games with your kids? Or on your own? What's the big challenge? Getting to the next level. My boys are always begging me to "hang on!" when I call them up from the basement, "I just want to get to this next level and then I'll save the game!"
Ahhh, the next level. Aren't we always striving to get to the next level? The feeling of accomplishment when you've conquered the current level; the exhilaration of triumph; the anticipation of a new challenge.
Then you cross over . . . and you feel like you are back at square one. Oh, I want to go back. This is too unfamiliar; I don't know what I'm doing. This is too hard.
Parenting is a lot like that, only there is no pushing pause when you're sick of the game, no cheatcodes to look for on the Internet, and no walking away when you decide you're done.
Sometimes we are eager and ready for the next level, and other times we are thrust into a new phase without our consent and with no regard for whether or not we are prepared. We are ready to move on, only to find when we get there that the challenges are harder and the stakes higher than we realized.
When our kids are babies, we are often ready for them to walk and talk - to be a bit more independent to give us a break. But that only leads to more involvement to keep them out of everything in their sight.
When they are elementary-aged, we long for them to do things on their own without us having to tell them to; then "tween" and teen years bring about times when we must beg for them to involve us in something - even a conversation!
And as late teens, when they are on the cusp of adulthood, we are quite ready for them to take life on themselves, get their acts together and make something of themselves already. Yet when they start to make moves toward this independence, and we must stand back as parents and let them - there can be sudden onset of panic within our hearts.
When these times arrive, we must trust. Trust that we have done a good job instilling in them all the right things; trust that they have paid attention to some of it; and trust that God's arms start where yours leave off.
So I'm in major trust mode much of the time, because with boys in such different stages of life, I've always got a new level of parenting to conquer. Right now I've got one whom I'm continuing to work with learning to deal with his autistic shortcomings on his own when he is at kindergarten and doesn't have me there to help him; another who is trying to decide whether he's a just a boy who still plays with toys or a "too cool for school" pre-adolescent mish-mash of hormonal emotions; and yet another who is struggling with life decisions for his future.
Within all of this, I'm supposed to be a different mother on different levels playing a different role for each - hour by hour. Be involved . . . stand back . . . you need my help . . . you can do this yourself . . . are you listening? Do you need me to listen? You need to stumble and learn from it . . . please take my hand to keep from falling . . . It is a constant, continuous, never-ending dance.
Some of it I chose for myself, and some was handed to me - without my consent or regard to whether or not I was prepared.
So I trust.